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The brainy boss

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The brainy boss

HRDC CEO talks knowledge meet the boss

Having been appointed as the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) CEO last June, Dr. Raphael Dingalo feels his organisation is perfectly placed to lead Botswana’s economy away from resource-based to the promised land of knowledge-based.

Speaking to Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON, Dr. Dingalo, an academic of note, outlines exactly what needs to be done to achieve this transformation.

Q. What exactly does your role entail?

As the CEO, I lead the development and monitoring of the implementation of HRDC’s strategic and operational plans and report periodically on progress and performance to the Board.

I also ensure that there are appropriate processes, systems, controls and operating mechanisms in place to promote effective and efficient delivery of internal and external services.

I also ensure close and smooth inter-department collaboration and teamwork.

Kindly share HRDC’s mandate with us.

HRDC plays a critical role in championing His Excellency the President’s transformation agenda which entails moving the country from mid to high-income status as anchored on the transformation from a resource to a knowledge-based economy.

Specifically, we are driven by the following objectives that make up the mandate of HRDC: We provide for policy advice on all matters of National Human Resource Development (NHRD); we co-ordinate and promote the implementation of the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS); we formulate human resource development plans for key sectors of the economy through linkages with employers, including as well formulating the National Human Resource Development Council.

Lastly we plan and advise on Tertiary Education Financing and Work – Place Learning.

Q. When you were appointed HRDC CEO, what were your priority areas?

My first priority was to enthuse staff to play a significant role in ensuring HRDC delivers on its mandate.

On every occasion I have to address staff members I make it known that I, as the CEO, do not lay claim to a monopoly of intellect and for this reason I am open to intellectually stimulating debate on how we can make HRDC a leading organisation, and an organisation worth identifying with.

I have opened my doors to all staff members to engage with myself and my team on whatever issue they believe can move our organisation forward.

I have also prioritised the use of ICT for improved service delivery.

In pursuit of utilising ICT for improved service delivery, I have developed the ICT Strategy and some of the projects under the strategy entail the Development of a Labour Market Information System, which monitors labour market patterns and trends affording us a system to stem out mismatch in Institutions output and the demand for labour.

I am also pursuing the development of an e-HRDF system, whereas levy payers will be applying for their reimbursement claims electronically thus improving on turnaround times for claims.

We are currently using Microsoft Project to monitor our projects and Executive Strategy Manager (ESM) by Palladium to monitor organisational performance.

Our Board meetings are paperless and in the next five-year Strategic Plan, I am planning on a paperless HRDC.

Q. How is HRDC positioning itself to contribute towards Botswana’s shift to a knowledge-based economy?

As HRDC, we have bought into the World Bank definition of a knowledge-based economy, being one that utilises knowledge to develop and sustain long-term economic growth, and the four pillars that make up such, being: Policies favourable to market transactions, open to free trade and foreign direct investment; Research centres, universities, think tanks, that create new knowledge; Communication, dissemination, and processing of information and technology; and Education, especially in the scientific and engineering fields.

HRDC has developed the National Human Resource Development Plan.

The Plan talks to Relevant Education and Skills for Employability and Entrepreneurship, including partnerships between ETPs and employers in the development and review of programmes; reskilling and retooling the current labour force as well as the provision of lifelong learning for the employed, and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme to nurture talent and potential at all levels of education and skills development system, including the workplace amongst others.

Q. Looking at the current developments, would you say the country is on the right track to becoming knowledge-based?

I believe the country is on track.

We need to understand that transformation does not happen overnight.

It is a planned activity and the development of the NHRDP and the Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan shows that we are on track.

But of course, the devil is in the implementation.

Q. What more can be done to fast track this transformation?

What the country needs is radical economic transformation and pushing for Public-Private Partnerships.

We have massive land and land is an asset.

For example, Government can reduce its spending on BIUST by partnering or selling off BIUST to a reputable international university.

This will spare Government the huge sums from both development and recurrent that goes to BIUST for other critical interventions, mainly infrastructural development.

Government must pursue Privatisation with zeal and zest, including Air Transportation System, Civil Aviation etc.

Government’s contribution should only be as far as leasing land to Airport developers. We should, therefore, be ready to open our borders and appreciate the ‘foreign-born’ but at the same time ensuring that we target ‘real foreign-born investors’.

Q. Which sectors of the economy do you feel should be of top priority in achieving a knowledge-based econoy?

Transportation, mainly Air Transportation as an enabling sector, and the need to have an iconic international airport.

There is no high-income country that does not have an international airport as Aviation supports many other sectors.

Alexandre de Juniac CEO of IATA contends that Aviation Industry is growing at a rapid rate, in years to come they are going to have challenges to do with infrastructure, i.e. airports, hence the country should tap into this opportunity.

ICT, of course, is critical as there is a need to leverage on and prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

We should, therefore, ensure targeted FDI, including luring big ICT companies to set up shop in Botswana.

Manufacturing is also critical and the need to develop our leather industry through designing quality leather products, which can be exported.

Furthermore, there is also a need to capitalise on our diamond industry by maximising on the diamond value chain, which should also drive our manufacturing.

Creative and Performing Arts is one sector that can create jobs for many creative Batswana especially the youth.

All these are premised on a robust education and training sector.

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Business

BSEL shrugs off COVID-19…….for now

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BSEL shrugs off COVID-19.......for now

While several stock exchanges around the world have experienced a knock due to the COVID-19 virus, Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has remained steadfast.

According to an analyst at Motswedi Securities, who also serves as the firm’s Head of Research, Garry Juma, this is largely because of BSEL’s illiquidity.

In essence, Juma explained there has been precious little buying or selling of shares.

“What has happened in other markets is that some investors were selling their shares in order to take their money to safe havens,” the analyst told Voice Money this week.

Meanwhile, the BSEL Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole says there are many reasons for the local stock market’s unwavering performance amidst the global economic uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

Reiterating Juma’s illiquidity explanation, which he attributed to the excess pools of capital available in Botswana, Tsheole also highlighted the lack of panic buying as a key factor.

The CEO further attributed BSEL’s steady performance to the slow filtering of the effects of the virus into the local economy.

“BSE is the fourth liquid stock exchange in Africa out of 27 stock exchanges but the rest went negative and we went positive. Again the market has been undervalued for some time in terms of Price Earnings ratios, so it was likely to go up from the beginning of the year,” reasoned Tsheole.

It remains to be seen whether the BSEL will continue to withstand the pressure of the virus as negative effects are expected to be felt in the coming weeks. This is especially true after South Africa, a major trading partner of Botswana, announced a nationwide lockdown beginning this week.

The lockdown is meant to contain the spread of the deadly virus, which has seen the country registering nearly 600 cases this week.

“The economic impacts are already here, the question is to what extent will they affect us,” said Juma adding that even if a stimulus package was to be introduced, one way or the other sectors will continue to suffer.

BSEL market performance report for the first three months of the year show that the market returns for 2019 have continued into 2020, registering a steady performance during the first two and half months of the year.

The Domestic Company Index (DCI) has appreciated by 1.46 percent in comparison to a 0.34 percent appreciation in the corresponding period in 2019.

The Domestic Company Total Return Index (DCTRI) appreciated by 2.12 percent compared to 0.81 percent increase over the same period last year.

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The stone breaker

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The stone breaker

In this week’s column, we feature energetic former auditor, Redemption Mosala who now serves at the Finance Manager of Belabela Quarries.

The 34-year-old John Mackenzie Secondary School alumni speaks to Voice Money’s KABELO ADAMSON about the nature of the company’s business.

The diminutive father-of-two, who may be short in size but is as chiseled as the tough stones his company dig up, also outlines the measures Belebela Quarries have taken to prepare against COVID-19.

Q. Briefly explain what your role as Finance Manager involves.

I sometimes feel Finance and Administrative Manager would be a more appropriate title (laughing).

I am the financial overseer of the company.

Every Thebe that leaves I should feel the pain!

So the main job overall is to make sure I minimize any wasteful expenditure and whatever expenditure we incur we do the most out of it.

For every Pula that we spend, we make sure that we get top value out of it.

So, it is cost management in a sense. Because we are a medium-size company that is still growing, there are no limited roles.

I am also involved in marketing, as well as taking care of the Information Technology department.

As I said, I do administrative work as well and there are a lot of financial and sales aspects.

The financial aspect involves minimizing costs while the sales part of it is about maximizing the revenue, which is cash in.

I have to set up a system to make sure that the cash flows are in a controlled manner.

The stone breaker
ON SITE: Belabela Quarries

Q. When did you join the company and where were you before that?

I joined the company in 2014.

Before that I worked as an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Q. Kindly explain to our readers the nature of your business.

We are quarrying a type of stone called granite; it is the most abrasive kind of stone you can quarry.

Abrasive as in one of the toughest you can ever find! Obviously our machines suffer a lot, but what it also means is our clients get a good quality product.

The process starts in a simple way, we drill, blast using dynamites then break them into smaller stones.

We put those stones in a jaw and crush into smaller sizes and from there we come up with products which make bricks and for plastering.

Those are our biggest selling products.

Q. What other products do you produce?

We do have road stones, which come in a variety depending on their sizes.

The products are mixed with bitumen which is then placed on roads to make asphalt and tar roads.

We also produce stones, which are usually used on railway lines.

Q. Who makes up the bulk of your clientele?

Our clients are all companies that build roads and construction companies.

When it comes to crush dust, our clients are mostly individuals.

Then we have those who are building these shopping centres.

But I can tell you, 48 percent of our clients are individuals and are actually the heart and soul of this business.

Q. Do you also sell your products outside the country?

No. We don’t sell outside the border because there might be some difficulties in terms of how we export a load of dust.

The other thing that you have to bear in mind is that transport will become more expensive.

For example, if you deliver in Jwaneng you will find that transport costs as much as the product and once you go further say Sekoma, the cost of transport doubles.

So, if you are going to export, you export to where?

We don’t really export as it stands now – instead we offer mobile crushing.

Q. What are the biggest challenges you face in this line of work?

We use all types of equipment such as liners and conveyors and our buckets for loaders which have got blades and those blades break weekly.

We have to replace them every week because the stone is so hard.

All these machines we have to replace the parts and we are spending quite a lot of money every month just to repair them.

Nothing lasts long here.

I can’t give you the exact figures but it’s quite a lot of money!

The stone breaker
MACHINES AT WORK: Belabela Quarries

Q. How many employees do you have?

We normally operate on 70 but we recently employed another 20 to deal with what seems to be an increase in demand.

We have engaged about four students from Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).

We are trying to take more people from the school and have more skilled guys and we really have a close relationship with BIUST.

Q. Is the company also taking care of the transportation part?

No, we subcontracted the transport business; we are not involved in it at all and are completed by subcontractors.

We have about 15 truck owners that we have engaged most of them funded by CEDA.

One of the most unfortunate things about my job is that every week I get at least four truck owners asking to have their trucks in the system but we have got enough trucks.

There is only so much we can do; we need more big projects in order to engage more truck owners.

The last time I put in more trucks was during the construction of the Phakalane road passing through Glen Valley.

Q. And lastly, how is the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 affecting your business?

Well, as it stands now we are monitoring the situation and listening to all the streams of information that we can including the Ministry of Health here.

But because we are part of a group where a lot of the shareholders are South Africa based and they are telling us the measures to take, we try to tailor-make those measures to suit our situation.

For now, we have done all the disinfecting being advised and so forth.

We will see as time goes on how the situation turns out.

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